Das Ende for Tolerance?

Der Spiegel reports on Germany’s anti-Muslim wave:

What is going on in Germany, the world’s second most popular destination for immigrants? Has the open-mindedness for which Germans had long been praised now ended? Are we seeing a return of the vague fear of being overwhelmed by immigrants that Germany experienced in the 1990s, when a hostel for asylum seekers was burned down? How large is the new right-wing movement, and will it remain limited to Dresden, or is it spreading nationwide?

So far, protests held under the PEGIDA label in under cities — like Kassel and Würzburg — have attracted only a few hundred people at a time. In fact, some of the protests attracted significantly larger numbers of counter-demonstrators. And while thousands of “patriotic Europeans” aim to take to the streets in Dresden again in the coming days, their counterparts in Germany’s western states are taking a Christmas break. PEGIDA supporters are waiting until after the holidays to return to the streets in cities like Cologne, Düsseldorf and Unna.

Still, many Germans share the protestors’ views, according to a current SPIEGEL poll. Some 34 percent of citizens agreed with the PEGIDA protestors that Germany is becoming increasingly Islamicized.


“Tolerance” is hardly the word I’d use for Germany’s attitude — then or now — towards Muslim immigrants.

During Germany’s postwar Wirtschaftswunder, the country didn’t have enough workers to produce all the goods demanded by its newly-prosperous consumers and export industries. So Germany brought in millions of Gastarbeiter, or guest workers, mostly from Turkey. Back in 1984, I saw some of the Muslim areas in Cologne and West Berlin firsthand — and trust me, those slums were not the result of happy multiculti tolerance. The Turks were shoved into bad areas and assimilation with ethnic Germans was never on the menu.

So I’d argue that today’s protests aren’t some sudden U-turn in German-Gastarbeiter relations, but instead are a natural consequence of Germany’s decades-long refusal to assimilate its permanent “guests.”

There’s a lesson there, if only we’d bother to (re)learn it.


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